Four decades of love, death, returning from the dead, weddings, outings and Emmy wins (namely Susan Lucci's, finally) comes to an end today — on TV, anyway — as "All My Children" airs its series finale on ABC (1 p.m.; repeat at 8 p.m. on SOAPnet).
"All My Children" — known affectionately as "All My Kids" to its devoted fans, some of whom have been watching the show since they were kids — premiered on ABC on Jan. 5, 1970.
Lucci, arguably the most popular actress in soap opera history, joined that same year, as a 22-year-old playing the then-15-year-old Erica Kane, a troublemaker who would go on to become the first TV character to get an abortion and to become one of the most married characters in daytime (nearly a dozen for the love-loving Erica).
The show has also seen its share of actors and actresses who've gone on to star in primetime and on the big screen, including Josh Duhamel, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eva LaRue, Mischa Barton, Kim Delaney, Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos (who met on the show and were an "AMC" couple before they were married in real life), Jesse McCartney, Lauren Holly, Christian Slater and Michelle Trachtenberg.
Both Carol Burnett and Elizabeth Taylor, fans of the series, made guest appearances on "AMC."
As for the show's future, Lucci has yet to sign on for the version of "All My Children" that will continue as a Web series — though her co-stars Cameron Mathison and Lindsay Hartley have — and in an update of her memoir, "All My Life," Lucci slams ABC daytime head Brian Frons' decision to cancel "AMC," saying Frons has "that fatal combination of ignorance and arrogance."
But soap ratings have been declining for years — Mental Floss magazine has a great oral history of soaps that traces the genre's decline, beginning with the O.J. Simpson trial — and when the also-canceled "One Life to Live" ends in January, there will be just four daytime soaps on ABC, CBS and NBC.
Today, though, is all about the "Children," and those involved have hinted that viewers might see yet another Erica Kane wedding, as well as a cliffhanger that would be resolved in the Web continuation.
As for Ms. Kane's potential "new" hubby, it's Jackson Montgomery (Walt Willey), who, of course, isn't new at all. He and Erica were married in 2005, divorced in 2007, and have been entangled many times since.